From the historic Rocks to trendy Paddington and glitzy Darling Harbour, Sydney’s diverse neighborhoods offer distinct atmospheres and attractions. Get a rounded experience of Australia’s largest city by diving into our picks of Sydney’s most interesting districts.
Tucked between the Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House, Circular Quay will likely be one of your first stops in town. One of Sydney’s main transport hubs, this is also your departure point for cruises around Sydney Harbour. It’s a great area for outdoor dining and leisurely strolls, with the best views of the bridge and opera house.
This small historic area is packed with colonial stone buildings, intriguing alleyways, hidden courtyards, boutiques, pubs, and restaurants, which are best explored on a guided walking tour that dives into the area’s rich history. On the weekend, visit the Rocks Market for souvenirs and crafts.
Glitzy, tourist-oriented Darling Harbour is home to Sydney’s main convention, exhibition, and entertainment centers, as well as a waterfront promenade, the Sydney Aquarium, an IMAX theater, the Australian Maritime Museum, the Powerhouse Museum, and lots of shops. It’s also a departure point for harbor cruises.
Trendy Paddington is known for its mix of culture, history, and shopping opportunities, as well as for its colonial architecture and elegant balconied buildings. The heart of Sydney’s large LGBTQ community, the neighborhood has a wide variety of gay bars and nightclubs.
No visit to Sydney is complete without soaking up some sun on Bondi Beach, one of the most famous beaches in the world. It’s just 5 miles (8 kilometers) from the city center and boasts warm waters and consistently nice waves. Surf, work on your tan, sip cocktails beachside, or take a hike over the surrounding cliffs.
Half an hour from Circular Quay via one of the world’s most scenic ferry journeys—or an energetic 4- to 6-hour hike—Manly is famed for a beach that rivals Bondi. Soak up the scene on a bicycle tour or dive into the clear waters on a snorkeling tour.